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SC teachers take salary hit in proposed budget

Teachers would bear the brunt of proposed budget cuts in South Carolina next year. The state's public school funding is down 22-percent from last year because of declining tax revenues. South Carolina State Superintendent Jim Rex says he's trying to avoid firing teachers by freezing their salaries instead. Next year, average teacher pay would remain at just over $47,000 rather than increasing to $48,500. Rex says it's the best option, considering the education budget is short more than $300 million. However, South Carolina Education Association President Sheila Gallagher believes local superintendent salaries and other district programs should be cut before teachers pay is sacrificed. "If you're telling your community that we have no other where to go, then that's what you have to do," says Gallagher. "But you've got to go through those steps to show that you've spent your money wisely and that this is the only way we can keep our teachers in the classroom." Superintendent Rex is asking local districts to make cuts where possible, but declining tax revenues limit those options. That's partly because South Carolina lawmakers recently began using sales taxes to pay for public education, rather than property taxes - a move the teacher's association opposed.